Abstract

Co-production of knowledge between academic and non-academic communities is a prerequisite for research aiming at more sustainable development paths. Sustainability researchers face three challenges in such co-production: (a) addressing power relations; (b) interrelating different perspectives on the issues at stake; and (c) promoting a previously negotiated orientation towards sustainable development. A systematic comparison of four sustainability research projects in Kenya (vulnerability to drought), Switzerland (soil protection), Bolivia and Nepal (conservation vs. development) shows how the researchers intuitively adopted three different roles to face these challenges: the roles of reflective scientist, intermediary, and facilitator of a joint learning process. From this systematized and iterative self-reflection on the roles that a researcher can assume in the indeterminate social space where knowledge is co-produced, we draw conclusions regarding training.

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